US-based Ghanaian sentenced 4 years to prison over $8M romance fraud

Kofi Osei pleaded guilty in September 2022, a statement from US authorities said.

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A US court on Tuesday sentenced a Ghanaian, resident in Boston, to more than four years in prison for his role in an $8 million romance fraud scheme. 

According to US Prosecutors, 30-year-old Kofi Osei scammed women he met on online dating sites, by telling them stories about being involved in explosions on foreign oil rigs and needing money to get out of a French jail. 

"Between 2016 and 2020, Osei opened at least 77 bank accounts using fake passports in others’ names and then received and quickly withdrew proceeds obtained from fraud victims. Osei’s co-conspirators created and used fictious online dating profiles to capitalize on the victims’ desire for companionship, gain their trust and direct victims to transfer money based on lies. 

Osei coordinated with his co-conspirators to receive the fraud proceeds into the bank accounts he opened. Osei then withdrew the fraud proceeds in cash or with a cashier’s check, sending a portion back to his co-conspirators. In total, the money-laundering scheme received more than $8 million in fraud proceeds, $4 million of which went directly into accounts that Osei opened and controlled," a statement from US authorities said. 

He pleaded guilty in September 2022, to seven counts of making a false statement to a bank, six counts of wire fraud, and two counts of money laundering, the statement further noted. 

Federal prosecutors initially asked for a nine-year sentence. But his lawyer sought leniency, arguing that, Osei who had come to the US  legally to pursue a professional football career, had no prior criminal history and only made “a poor and misguided decision.”

In addition to his jail term, he was also ordered to pay $4,122,558 in restitution.